150911-idea_1 150911-idea_2 150911-idea_3

Located 15 minutes north of the Mexican border, in a predominantly low-income community, sits IDEA San Benito, a college preparatory school – in one of the least likely places you would expect to find one.

Approximately 50 percent of the students who enter four-year colleges will graduate, and for minorities that statistic is even fewer. The challenge, for teachers like Adrian Correa, is not only to help students get into college, but also to get them to graduate.

That is why IDEA San Benito – part of the IDEA Public Schools network – will be featured in a national conversation about education Friday, Sept. 11 at 8 p.m. EST/7 p.m. CST as part of a roadblock broadcast (simultaneously airing on ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX) entitled, Think It Up.

The new initiative, spearheaded by the Entertainment Industry Foundation, the team that created Stand Up To Cancer, aims to support students and teachers in schools throughout the country and to inspire a new excitement throughout American culture about the importance of education and the power of learning.

Following the telecast and throughout the year, working in partnership with DonorsChoose.org, students will be able to partner with each other and their teachers to pursue their learning passions through an extraordinary student-powered, leader-led grant program.

IDEA San Benito is one of six IDEA campuses that began a partnership with the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) in 2014 and began offering NMSI’s College Readiness Program. The program partners with public schools across country to increase the number of students participating and succeeding in rigorous college-level coursework in math, science and English, while expanding access to traditionally underrepresented students. In just one year, NMSI boosts the number of AP passing scores in these subjects in partner schools by ten times the national average.

NMSI trains teachers as early as middle school to help prepare their students for the rigors of college-level coursework. And whereas most schools have rules about who can take AP classes and who cannot – through NMSI, IDEA and the many other schools working with NMSI let anyone participate. NMSI believes that students, given the opportunity to shine, will rise to the occasion. NMSI’s College Readiness Program started in Dallas, and has expanded to more than 750 schools nationwide, impacting more than a million students, because it’s working.

Mr. Correa, an AP Biology teacher, has mentored countless students in his career, including a recent graduate, Jasiel. Jasiel lacked strong academic role models in his life, but was nonetheless determined to become a first generation college graduate and a mechanical engineer to help create life-saving military hardware for soldiers like his older brother, who was deployed overseas.

Hannah, a current senior at IDEA San Benito, and inspired by Jasiel’s success, is valedictorian of her class and is being actively recruited by top universities including Yale and Cornell. She plans on becoming a special education teacher – continuing Mr. Correa’s legacy of giving opportunities to all students, no matter their background.

These stories will be featured as part of the national Think It Up telecast because the work being done in partnership with NMSI’s College Readiness program exemplifies the type of learning that we want to encourage all over the country, including through Think It Up student-powered, teacher-led learning projects. This type of student-teacher collaboration gives young people the opportunity to not only pursue their passions, but also to develop essentials skills to succeed in life after high school.